Civilization and Its Discontent Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Civilization and Its Discontent : Biography

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Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856, to Jewish parents, Jakob and Amalia Freud, in Freiberg, then in Austria. The family moved to Vienna in 1860, where younger siblings were born. Freud was an outstanding student, loving to read literature in German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. He became a doctor of medicine at the University of Vienna in 1881 and continued there doing research on cerebral palsy, aphasia, and microscopic neuroanatomy at the Vienna General Hospital. He became a university lecturer in neuropathology and a professor in 1902. In 1886 he began a private practice in nervous disorders. He married Martha Bernays, the granddaughter of an important rabbi. They had six children. Freud was influenced by his philosophy tutor, Franz Brentano, who had discussed the possibility of an unconscious mind, and by Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Jean-Martin Charcot's techniques of hypnosis.

Freud began to use hypnosis while talking to his patients about their hysterical or psychosomatic symptoms. He also used free association in the talking cure as well as dream analysis. He developed his theory of the repressed contents of the unconscious while dealing with his own depression and dreams, in which he discovered his love of mother and rivalry with father (Oedipus complex). In 1889 he published The Interpretation of Dreams, in which he laid out the general structure of the mind and dreams as a mechanism of wish-fulfillment. The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901), Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious (1905), and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905) expand on his idea of infant sexuality. Other important works include Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), The Ego and the Id (1923), The Future of an Illusion (1927), and Civilization and its Discontents (1930).

Psychoanalysis became a respected clinical practice to free patients from their repressed trauma and repetitive neurotic behavior. A group of followers including Alfred Adler, Max Kahane, and Rudolf Reitler discussing regularly with Freud the implications of his theories. Later, Otto Rank and Carl Jung joined. In 1911 the journal Imago, edited by Rank, was devoted to psychoanalysis, and Jung was elected as first president of the International Association of Psychoanalysts. Adler and Jung eventually broke away with their own important theories and developments. When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Freud's books were burned. His daughter Anna was detained and questioned by the Gestapo, making Freud understand he had to flee Austria for England. In London, Freud saw patients and wrote his last books, Moses and Monotheism, 1938, and the uncompleted Outline of Psychoanalysis, published posthumously.

In 1923 Freud developed a cancerous growth on the lip from heavy smoking. He had surgery but eventually died of jaw cancer on September 23, 1939, in London. Freud's techniques of psychotherapy and his theories were among the most important ideas of the twentieth century. The neo-Freudians, Adler, Rank, and Karen Horney, used Freudian ideas to emphasize self-assertiveness. Carl Jung developed his important idea of the collective unconscious containing archetypes that influence human behavior. Jacques Lacan applied Freud's theories to linguistics and literature. Fritz Perls developed Gestalt psychology, which studies how humans organize experience into wholes, and Arthur Janov developed primal therapy, which focuses on the traumas of early childhood. Despite subsequent revisions and criticism, Freud's thought remains influential in psychology, sociology, literature, art, and philosophy.


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